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Sunday, 17 October 2010 20:11

Toyota says U.S. October auto sales rate may top 12 million

U.S. auto sales are picking up, with an annual selling rate that could exceed 12 million cars and light trucks in October, a senior Toyota Motor Corp. sales executive said Oct. 14. That would be the highest selling rate since last August, when "cash-for-clunkers" rebates stoked demand. Since then, the selling rate has been between 11 million and 12 million light vehicles.

"The truth is the industry is on the mend, but the economic recovery is much slower than many forecasted and certainly slower than many of us would have liked," Don Esmond, senior vice president at Toyota Motor Sales USA, told the Automotive Press Association.

"The good news is that the job market, personal consumption, capital spending and residential investment are inching up," he said. "The bad news is that lingering high unemployment and erratic stock prices are restraining consumer confidence and spending."

Toyota is sticking with its full-year industry-wide sales forecast for 11.5 million light vehicles, up from 10.4 million in 2009.

"This month could go over 12 million, so things are looking up a bit," Esmond said.

"We continue to be bullish on the long-term prognosis for the auto industry due to the nation's aging fleet, high scrappage rates and strong U.S. population growth. All these factors are increasing the pressure for consumers to buy a new car," he said. "We see the auto industry reaching more than 15 million sales by mid-decade."

U.S. auto sales last exceeded 17 million in 2000.

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